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Series: How to Stay in Our Jobs with God — Making Enough and Focusing on Helpfulness

4. We make much of Christ in our secular work by earning enough money to keep us from depending on others, while focusing on the helpfulness of our work rather than the financial rewards.

I like how Piper shows a tension here: we both need to make enough money to keep us from being a burden on others, but we also need to prioritize helpfulness over profit.

First, we need to not feel bad about making an honest living: “Work with your hands… so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thess 4:11-12). When we earn a living, we honor God and we “clear the way for non-Christians to see Christ for who he really is. Aimless, unproductive Christians contradict the creative, purposeful, powerful, merciful God we love” (John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, p. 147). When a moral non-Christian who values good work ethic sees Christians who use God as an excuse for not working hard, they use it as evidence that our God is not worthy to follow. Using God as a reason for not working hard is falsely communicating about a productive, creative, purposeful, working God.

Second, though it’s paradoxical, we honor God by making a living when we are focused not on our profit but on the benefit our product or service brings to society. This sort of thinking smacks of heresy, but listen: “Yes, we should earn enough money to meet our needs… but, no, we should not make that the primary focus of why we work” (Piper, p. 147). Jesus strikes us with his words each time we read, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (John 6:27). Piper helps demystify this concept: “Work with an eye not mainly to your money, but to your usefulness. Work with a view to benefiting people with what you make or do…. Stop thinking mainly of profitability, and think mainly of how helpful your product or service can become” (p. 148).

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About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at TeachingtheCore.com. He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

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